The Falcons coaching staff came together quickly, but the front office always figured to take a little longer to come together. Today, we got our first official new hire under Terry Fontenot, and it is an experienced addition to this Falcons front office.
Atlanta just announced the addition of Kyle Smith as their new vice president of player personnel. Smith was let go by Washington but reportedly had this role lined up with the Falcons, but he had spent 11 years in a college scouting role with his old team before jumping into a vice president of player personnel role in 2020. In that role, he was responsible for both college and pro personnel, per the Falcons announcement, and presided over a successful draft class that brought Chase Young, gifted back Antonio Gibson, and safety Kamren Curl to Washington. In recent years, his involvement with the draft was still reportedly significant and Washington brought in intriguing talent including pass rusher Montez Sweat, wide receiver Terry McLaurin, linebacker Cole Holcomb, and defensive tackle Daron Payne. If he had a major role in driving some of those recent draft classes, that’s a nice hire.
Smith is the expected college scouting-focused hire we all thought Fontenot would bring aboard—though he likely won’t be the last one—given that Fontenot’s own rich background comes chiefly on the pro side of the house. Smith will presumably help Fontenot get a draft plan together and serve as an experienced right hand man for the new Falcons general manager, and will preside over a personnel department that is likely to undergo further changes. Director of college scouting Anthony Robinson—who interviewed for the Falcons GM job—and director of pro personnel Shepley Heard are still part of the front office for the moment, and Robinson’s involvement in some quality Falcons classes in recent years will hopefully be impactful this spring, too.
Fontenot had some glowing words for his new hire:
“Kyle literally grew up in this business and is obsessed with, and passionate about, the process of building and managing competitive teams.” Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said. “He is extremely smart, detailed and organized, and he couldn’t be more excited to become an Atlanta Falcon.
“We are thrilled he is joining our team. I also wanted to acknowledge and appreciate our current staff who has shown flexibility and adaptability as we continue to make this transition within our organization. They have continued to focus on our goals as a team and we look forward to growing together.”
The “grew up in this business” remark is because Smith is the son of longtime personnel executive A.J. Smith, who was an assistant director of college scouting and then director of pro personnel for the Bills during their run to four straight Super Bowls. Smith was also the general manager of the Chargers from 2003-2012, so Smith is familiar with the personnel side of the NFL both in his own decade-plus in the league and because his dad did it for decades.
The obvious hope is that Smith will prove to be an impactful addition to a front office that has some cap-related challenges and a mandate to bring in more talent in the years ahead. Fontenot is a hire that is easy to like already, and if Smith’s draft background in Washington is any indication of what we can expect from future Falcons classes, hopefully the Falcons will be in good shape.